NIHI Sumba is nothing like your classic luxury hotel, and it is far away from the tourist trail on the relatively unknown island of Sumba. And being a philanthropic hotel by heart, no one had predicted that NIHI would be named the world's best hotel by the renowned magazine Travel & Leisure. Twice in a row. NIHI Sumba defied all odds and has become a beacon of alternative world-class luxury - the Sumba way.
The location is exceptionally beautiful and the place signals authenticity. Far away, yet accessible, the approach to tourism as a driver for the local community is a great personal inspiration for us. NIHI Sumba is built on the same foundation as Journey's Intent - the belief that responsibility leads to better experiences.
Authentic, warm and genuine
Hiring staff among a very poor and uneducated local population, instead of bringing people in from outside the island is a key element to the feel of NIHI. The staff is immensely proud of working here, and your stay truly helps the island to prosper.
The service and the feeling at NIHI are not the usual streamlined slightly mechanical feeling you get at most deluxe hotels of this caliber. No manuals here. And that is how we love it.
NIHI Sumba is a feeling, and their philanthropic and heartwarming approach is felt during you entire stay. It is real, and it makes you feel comfortable and part of something bigger.
From the perfect wave to a philanthropic life-project
NIHI Sumba was formerly called Nihiwatu - the name of the beach at the foot of the resort. This is where the young couple Claude and Petra Graves landed in 1988 in search of the perfect surf wave.
They found it here, just off Nihiwatu, decided to settle down, and subsequently opened a resort that was to be as much for the local community as for the guests, friends, and themselves. In addition to hiring locals, most of the profits were channeled into The Sumba Foundation, whose main purpose was - and still is - to alleviate poverty at Sumba.
That was the very start of today's NIHI Sumba. Graves is still behind the foundation and is leading the work to improve the standard of living for the local population.
But in 2012, they sold the resort to an American philanthropist and investor Chris Burch. And it is under Burch's ownership that NIHI has moved up among the best hotels in the world.
The facilities have been given a facelift, so both the location and the decor have quite a wow-effect - but in the wild, rustic, and slightly unpolished way. The philanthropic approach is still NIHI's heart and soul. The DNA of the resort sets NIHI apart and makes it so much more than just a luxury hotel.
NIHI has a very strong connection with the Sumbanese and their unique, local culture. This opens doors to an otherwise closed community, and thereby gives you unique experiences inaccessible to most.
This cultural meeting moves you and gives the trip an enriching purpose - a feeling that the money spent here, actually benefits the people who need it the most. Or as the NIHI puts it: "Arrive with an open heart and leave changed forever".
Everything is an experience
All villas are different - in style, size and decor. The resort is built with respect for the natural surroundings - and the aim was not to remove anything.
There are, of course, some common features, but they are more about experiences and atmosphere and never streamlined - such as a private pool, panoramic sea views, lots of light, handmade chocolate in the minibar, and the rustic simplicity of the design with lots of natural materials.
To enter each villa is truly an experience. We help choose the right one for you, because, in addition to style, design, and location, some are only for couples, while others are suitable for families. The largest villa has 5 bedrooms, so if you are a large family/three generations or several friends who travel together this would do perfectly.
When Claude and Petra Graves settled on the beach in 1988, it was due to the symbiosis between the raw and untouched nature, the strong culture of the local community, and not least the ultimate surf wave.
The surf wave, which has been named Occy's left, of course still exists. And together with nature and local culture, it still forms the trinity on which the resort was founded. But where the guests, in the beginning, were mostly surfers, today it is a good mix and today many come to NIHI for the purity and the Sumba experience.
At sea, some of the many activity opportunities include snorkeling at the house reef, free diving, underwater hunting with a harpoon, deep-sea fishing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, and kayaking on the sea or up rivers.
On land, there are beautiful walks on foot, by mountain bike, or with open 4WD through rice fields and jungle to virgin waterfalls. There are visits to villages and colorful markets. And not least, there is the opportunity to visit the Sumba Foundation's various projects and learn about both challenges and success stories.
How to get to Sumba
Sumba and NIHI are far away, which of course is part of the charm. But still yet quite accessible. You go to Bali, from where there is an hour in domestic flight to northern Sumba and then approx. 2 hours drive to the resort on the southwestern part of the island.
It is possible to visit NIHI without a stay in Bali, but we recommend making a stop on the way, to experience what Bali has to offer.